The Department of Justice (DOJ) is under scrutiny for issuing over $1 million in anti-human trafficking grants to less qualified organizations, according to a Reuters report on a whistleblower complaint. The DOJ issued grants to two groups including Hookers for Jesus, a Nevada nonprofit and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation in South Carolina last year according […]
New York – August 20, 2007 – Friends and foes of an embattled public school whose curriculum will be taught in Arabic raised the volume of their rhetoric Monday, with critics warning students could be “indoctrinated” with radical Islamic beliefs and supporters calling such statements “racist.”
The Khalil Gibran International Academy – named after a Lebanese Christian poet – has emerged as a target for criticism since officials announced in February it would be set up as the first in the city to offer instruction in Arabic and on Arab culture.
“Unless we all send a clear message that racist comments associating Arabic language and culture with terrorism will not be tolerated, we will continue to hear them again and again,” the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee and other community groups said in a statement in support of the school.
Meanwhile state Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the school’s children could be “indoctrinated” and warned in a statement that “establishment of an Arab school is a misguided and dangerous idea.”
“It will not, as suggested, be a hope for peace; it is a blueprint for anti-Israel and anti-U.S. extremism,” he said, adding that the school has been endorsed by “radical” groups.
City education officials have said they plan to open the school on schedule on Sept. 4 despite efforts by critics equating it with a madrassa, an Islamic religious school, and portraying it as a potential radical Islam training ground.
Then, earlier this month the school’s original principal, Debbie Almontaser, a Yemeni-born Muslim, resigned after she failed to condemn the use of the highly charged word “intifada,” an Arabic term for the Palestinian uprising against Israel.
Her replacement is Jewish and does not speak Arabic.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show that Almontaser is “certainly not a terrorist,” but he called her resignation the “right thing to do.”
Some of the school’s supporters argued Monday that education officials’ quiet persistence in planning to open the school is not enough.
“‘Welcoming’ Ms. Almontaser’s resignation and remaining silent on the underlying anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bigotry has the effect of legitimizing the very thing that should be condemned,” the groups said in a statement.
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